Tag Archives: family

Easing Growing Pangs-Dealing with Empty Nest Syndrome

One of the hardest parts about being a parent is when their children move out and begin a life of their own.  Whether their kids are going away to college, beginning a career in another city or state, or simply settling into a new home with a significant other all parents face a sense of loss.  They can sometimes feel like they are no longer needed or as important in their children’s lives.

It’s okay to be sad when the kids leave the nest, but life doesn’t actually stop for mom or dad just they suddenly have a different role in the lives of their offspring.  There are ways to cope with the change in your relationship, and many things to look forward to ahead.

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Life changes, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.  Photo by Chilanga Cement on Trend Hype / CC BY

Take care of yourself first.  If you feel depressed or overwhelmed by becoming an empty nester, talk to someone.  Whether you have a significant other to turn to, or you confide in a friend, or even seek professional help, it really does make a difference to know you’re not alone in this.  Your kids are starting a new chapter in their lives, and so should you.  The feelings of loss should ease as you settle into your new norm and your new relationship with your children.

Your relationship is changing, but your kids will always be yours.  The worry and the concern will remain, even when they’re out of the house and if you don’t see them as often.  They will always be a part of your lives and in your hearts and minds.  Keep in touch however you can-whether you call, text, skype, or email.  You can always visit, or have them visit you.  If you live close enough schedule regular family dinners, either at home or a restaurant.  Let them know that it’s still okay to turn to you when they need a sounding board, or advice.  You can offer to help them with big “adult” things, like shopping for a car and decorating a new home.

Your future is in your hands.  Just because your children don’t live at home anymore doesn’t mean your life is over.  Take advantage of your situation to try new things.  Make plans to travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but couldn’t manage before because of schedules or budget.  Find a new hobby you can share with your spouse, or take a course at a local college.  Join a book club.  Volunteer.  Spend time planning how you will spoil any future grandkids.

Having your children grow up can be harder on the parents than it is for the kids.  Remember how big a wreck you were on their first day of school.  Hey, you survived that, right?  You’ll get through this too.  Just hang in there.

Amy

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Coming Home

A home is more than a house.  /www.dreamstime.com

Dorothy said it best when she repeated the mantra, “There’s no place like home.”  I could ask one hundred people and probably get one hundred different definitions of the word “home.”

For some the term invokes images of a physical building, for others it’s a person or group of people, and for still others the word implies a concept.  Most of us equate “home” with feelings of warmth, safety, and belonging.  We all desire a safe place, where we will not be judged for being ourselves, where we can find acceptance and love.

Sometimes home is not so much a location that we go or occupy, but an ideal, a dream of what can be, or what we aspire to.  What we call “home” in our heads or hearts could be a  memory from childhood, even if the physical site no longer exists.  (If your home fits into this category, then you can say you carry it with you wherever you go.)

Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time working on projects around my personal nest.  I’ve decluttered, painted, planted, and visited every home improvement store within a fifty mile radius. I’ve helped my husband assemble a video doorbell system, and watched technicians install new appliances.  Why all the fuss?  For the sole purpose of breathing fresh life into the space my family and I have called ours for fourteen years.

I work from my home, so it’s even more important to me that the place I live is comfortable, attractive, and neat.  Separating my work and other activities is not always possible, but at least I can create a space where I don’t mind spending my time.

At the end of a long day, I am more than ready for some quiet time to unwind, to read a book or watch TV with my husband, and just enjoy being home.  Does this make me a homebody?  I don’t really mind the label.  As nice as it can be sometimes to get out, or go away, I always look forward to returning to the place we call home.

 

 

 

 

In Memoriam

Memorial Day......
This cemetary has been in use for perhaps generations.  Photo by Astrid Photography. on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

One of my earliest reminisces of this May holiday, before I even understood its real meaning, is of riding in the back of a pickup truck with my family down winding country roads to reach the old family cemeteries.   Once there, we would disembark and make our way up a hilly path, to a fenced-in area of carefully tended lawn bordered by shady trees.  Laden with plastic tulips and daisies, we would seek the markers for ancestors whose names I only recognized from stories, and place our bounty in careful clusters and rows.

This is one way my family honored those who had gone before, ancestors whose faces were etched in the memories of the older generation, and introduced to the children by way of books and boxes of old sepia-toned photos.  My parents had relatives who had never come home from war, and others who didn’t survive childhood.  There were aunts, uncles, siblings, and generations of grandparents, grouped in couples and families; bound forever to memory by icons of marble and metal, of small flags and larger angels, of loving epitaphs and last words.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to honor the dead.  Each culture across the globe has developed its own customs of remembrance; for instance, the Day of the Dead celebrated by families of Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States, and All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day, Catholic holidays celebrated in many countries.

There are books and television channels devoted to history and software that traces genealogies as far back as written records exist.  What all of these have in common is that they are a way to remember our roots, and those who have given their lives for us, that we may continue to live and hopefully honor them in the paths we choose.

Memorial Day
Today is a day to honor our veterans, and all those who have gone before.  Photo by CraigInDaVille on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Today is the official Memorial Day celebrated in the United States.  Today, especially, we celebrate the lives of our family members who are no longer with us, and the veterans who gave their lives in service to our nation.  Today we honor their sacrifices, their accomplishments, and their legacy.  However and whenever you choose to honor, celebrate, and mourn lost family and our national heroes, let today be a day of commemoration, and celebration.

Happy Memorial Day!

Amy

A Recipe for Reunion Success

The promise of warm weather and a break from school is the opportune time for many families to reconnect.  When your family is as scattered as mine, getting together can be a huge and potentially overwhelming undertaking.  To help you prepare your next get-together, I’ve shared some of my best tips for serving up a successful family reunion.

Family Reunion
The entire clan is gathered together for this shot! Photo by artgoeshere on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Start by Prepping Your Space.

One of the beautiful things about planning a reunion in the spring or summer is the fact you can use the weather to your advantage.  If you have a small space and a large number of relatives, you can always move the bulk of the festivities outdoors.  Picnic tables and benches or camp chairs are wonderful for sharing food, conversation, and keeping an eye on the little ones.

If you live in an apartment and don’t have outdoor space you can reserve or utilize, check out your local parks.  Some take reservations while others have a first-come-first-serve policy, so do your research as soon as possible after the date for the event is set if you choose this option.

Add Plenty of Good Food.

Sharing a meal is usually an integral part of family time, so plan ahead.  Try to over-estimate on the amount of food that you think you’ll need, because the last thing you want to do is send someone away hungry!  Be aware of relatives with special dietary needs, such as for medical conditions and allergies, and make sure there are plenty of options for picky eaters.

Consider having willing family members help in the preparation, or in bringing their own signature dishes from home; everyone wants to feel needed and to be a vital part of the gathering.  Also, don’t forget to have plenty of disposable containers on hand to pack up leftovers.

Blend in Activities.

Be prepared for when the conversation lulls or the kids get bored by planning a number of activities appropriate to the group as a whole and the ages of the family members.  There are any number of games the entire group can enjoy, from three-legged races to water balloon tosses to Pictionary or charades.  These require very little equipment, and can be adapted to suit the size and ages of your group members.  If you have one available, a fire pit can be a wonderful addition to your party, offering a venue for toasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories as the evening winds down.

Prevent or At Least Chill Conflicts.

The last thing you should have to worry about at your family reunion is a major argument between attendees.  There will always be disagreements between family members, but a group party is more than likely not the ideal time to resolve these problems.  If conflict is unavoidable, try to encourage those involved to move to another room or space and calmly, quietly discuss their issues.  Offer impartial intermediation if needed.  Hopefully they can work out their differences or at least agree to a truce.  After all, they may only have the opportunity to see each other and the rest of their relatives once or a few times a year.

 Enhance with an Archivist. 

If your family gatherings are as rare as mine, they feel all the more precious each time you gather.  Children grow up and move away, and older relatives sadly pass, so it’s impossible to predict who will make it to the next reunion.  Consider creating a Facebook event page or similar where photos and memories can be shared and posted.  Put everyone in front of the camera.  Elect one relative to film each attendee as they share personal remembrances, funny stories, or nuggets of wisdom to pass on to other members.

I hope you get to spend time with your extended collection of loved ones soon, and that these tips help you host your ideal event.  Remember: family is special and irreplaceable, whether you have a large clan by blood, or a few you call family by choice.  Either way, they provide us with a sense of belonging and community that fills our hearts and enriches our lives.

Until next time,

Amy